Book club: ‘Turning the Tide on Plastic’ by Lucy Siegle

‘A powerful call to arms coupled with practical tools to make decisive change’

Long before the issue of plastic pollution captured the attention of the masses, there were a handful of individuals who bravely stepped forward to ring the alarm bell and warn us of what was really happening. One of those was journalist, broadcaster and activist Lucy Siegle, who has been tackling the issue of plastic in her newspaper columns for almost two decades and who helped wake the UK up to the scale of the plastic problem with her work on BBC’s The One Show. In her 2018 book ‘Turning the Tide on Plastic: How Humanity (and You) can Make our Globe Clean Again’, she sets out to use her vast experience dealing with plastics to create a guide for others to follow. By combining a comprehensive breakdown of the main issues with tips and solutions to reduce your own plastic footprint, she has produced THE handbook for helping to turn the tide on the plastic pandemic.

Ocean plastic like the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are referenced throughout the book as a reason to cut plastic out of our lives

The book is separated into two main parts, the first of which is an introduction to the plastic problem. This combines the authors own personal experiences with plastic, as both a consumer and environmental journalist, with an overview of the science and history behind the controversial material. She also explains why more isn’t being done to tackle the problem, due to a lack of proper recycling and an unwillingness by big corporations to take responsibility for the single-use waste they are creating. As well as laying out the consequences of plastic pollution, which are listed and explained in great detail, with a particular emphasis on the impacts towards the marine environment. All of this can be rather overwhelming to take in, but her clear, concise and often comical writing style makes it much more bearable.

In part two Lucy provides us with some much needed hope, by highlighting what we can do as individuals, and in particular consumers, to curb our plastic footprint. She challenges us to change our approach towards plastics with the 8Rs, her own take on the famous 3Rs. In each of the mini-chapters (Record, Reduce, Replace, Refuse, Reuse, Refill, Rethink and Recycle) she provides us with a wealth of practical and affordable tips to limit the amount of plastic in our lives. By using her own busy life as an example, she shows us the homemade alternatives that have served her well as well as providing links to top products that are leading the way in the plastic revolution.

The anti-plastic movement has gathered strength and publicity in recent years, which provides activists like Lucy with hope

Following on from this she also explains the power we have as both individual activists and communities to challenge the status quo and bring about real systematic change. By providing examples of anti-plastic heroes, future technological solutions and organisations that you can support, she ends the book with a rallying cry that there is still time to rectify our mistakes. In this way her book is equal parts educational, helpful and inspirational. Overall ‘Turning the Tide on Plastic’ is a fantastic read for anyone who wants to learn more about the plastic problem or is ready to start their own journey towards a plastic-free life.


This review is the eleventh in our new Marine Madness Book Club! At the beginning of every month we will be releasing a new review of an ocean inspired book and encouraging you to let us know what you think in the comments and via social media. To find out more visit the Book Club page here.

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